Step 1: Gather necessary materials
Crayons and crayon pieces of all sizes and colors
A plastic candy mold (yes, fully aware this purchase is not so "green" but remember you're trying to achieve an "eco-friendly" gift that's also something a kid would actually want to use so you can justify the purchasing this piece of cheap plastic knowing that you'll love this project so much you'll want to do it often)
Extra Items include:
Old cups to melt your crayon pieces into
Pretty Packaging Items:
Clean cereal box
small plastic treat bags (again not so green--still thinking of a way to package the crayons using a recycled material)
ink stamp pad
Step 2: A crayon hunting you will go
Step 3: Peel away
Step 4: Breaking up
Step 5: Filling the mold
Step 6: A day in the sun
Step 7: Not so hot
Time to use an alternative heat source to melt those babies.
What we did was melted crayons in the microwave by placing crayon pieces into a microwave-safe cup and heating on high from 3-5 minutes. Unfortunately you can't place candy molds in the microwave as they aren't microwave safe.
The plus side to the microwave version is that you can do a quick mini-lesson with the kids in solids, liquids and gases. Look how smart you are!
Next year you'll start this project in July.
Step 8: Hot liquid
At this point you can continue your intriguing discussion on the physical properties of matter with the as you show them how their solid crayons have turned into a hot liquid that's giving off the most horrible smelling gas (try not to inhale) when they were melted in the microwave. And while the solid kept it's own shape when placed in the candy mold the liquid took the shape of the candy mold when poured.
Next, pour the extremely hot liquid into the candy mold and ask your mini chemists "what do you think will happen next?"
Step 9: Waiting for the results..yet again
Drag kids back into the kitchen to see what has happened. Next, lay on tons of verbal praise when you share with your little one the results of your experiment explaining that their predictions were right when they said that the hot, hot liquid would get cold and turn back into a solid. Then, give them a hug, kiss and a cookie for being so knowledgeable and for using the words "liquid" and "solid."
Step 10: Pop those babies out
Turn the crayons face up and prepare to be amazed at how sweet the new crayons actually look.
Step 11: Optional special holiday packaging
Now, I do realize that the use of plastic treat bags aren't what you'd consider necessarily "green." However, they sure make a cheap, nice and mess-free way to pass out your gift. So, if it makes you feel better just "help" the recipient carefully open the package because they're sure to want to use these beauts right away. Then, tell them you'll throw away the trash but instead just tuck the wrapping right back into your purse to use again. There, now don't you feel better?
What we did to package our crayons:
Using small treat bags purchased at Michael's we carefully placed a crayon into a bag. Then we cut labels out of a recycled cereal box. Next, we set up a packaging assembly line. The littlest helper stamping a swell snow flake print on the front of the label then passed it to the big brother who wrote out the label which I would've liked to have read "Eco-friendly and 100% Recycled Crayon" however I felt the "Eco-friendly" part was kinda false advertising so the boy just wrote "100% Recycled Crayon. Made by..." I sealed the deal by stapling the label to the packaged crayon. I think the results are sorta cute.
And judging from the excitement level of my two picky consumers I think the recipients of our recycled crayons should have a good time coloring with these fun-shaped gifts.
Now to go with these sweet crayons we'll make some recycled paper.